Our captain, our savior, after thirteen long years since he hung up his skates for good and nine years after leaving the Red Wings to become GM of Tampa Bay, Stevie Y. is returning home where he belongs--Hockeytown USA! Welcome home Mr. Steve Yzerman!! I don''t think people really realize the impact he had on one of the most storied franchises in NHL history. He arrived in Detroit in 1983 as an 18-year old baby-faced rookie for one of the worst teams in the NHL at that time. In three short years, he was named captain at 21-years old which is unheard of. He then put the Red Wings on his back and carried them for the next 19 seasons winning three Stanley Cups as a player, one Stanley Cup as an executive, was a ten-time NHL All-Star, and ranked seventh in all-time scoring in NHL history. During his long tenure with the Wings, he also became the longest-serving captain of any team in North American major league sports history. In 2008, he was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and in 2009 inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame. How's that for a resume?!
Here are some of the more notable things the Red Wings accomplished during Yzerman''s reign as captain of the franchise. Beginning with the 1989-90 season, the Red Wings started a streak of 25-consecutive seasons of making the playoffs which finally ended with the 2015-16 season. 25 seasons!! That''s unheard of in today's professional sports leagues. The Red Wings broke the record for most wins in a season with 62 in 1995-96 when the "Russian Five" dominated the ice at the "Joe". The Wings won the President''s Trophy six times (best record in NHL). In a span of fourteen seasons from 1994-95 to 2008-09, the Red Wings went to six Stanley Cups (winning four) with Yzerman as a player and executive. Most road wins with 31 and consecutive road wins with 12 in NHL history in 2005-06. And who could forget the most star-studded team in NHL history during the 2001-02 season which resulted in a Stanley Cup (anything less was not acceptable for this team). That team was led by Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman and included ten Hall of Fame players in Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille, Chris Chelios, Sergei Federov, Igor Larionov, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Pavel Datsyuk, and goalie Dominik Hasek. I don''t believe we'll ever see another team like this again especially with the salary cap in place in the NHL now. Wow talk about a head-spinning team! I was privileged enough to see this team live a couple of times that season in Southern Cal when they played the Ducks and Kings. Seeing them skate around the ice before the game was like a who's who in hockey!
I don''t think there is a more beloved Detroit professional sports player than the "Captain" (except for maybe Barry Sanders). There had been ongoing rumors over the years that he would eventually return to the Red Wings to replace Ken Holland as GM. Mr. Holland, in his own right, deserves much of the credit for the Red Wings success over the last two decades but with the team falling on hard times over the last three seasons, the writing was on the wall. It's now STEVIE Y. TIME to turn around this once proud franchise and get them in the running again for Stanley Cups every season. Welcome home Stevie, welcome home!